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Botsoc agm

Wow, just heard that this blog is read the world over, even in such places as the US, Australia and Great Britain so I better get off my backside, or rather on it, and do some postings.

The AGM of the Algoa section of the Botanical Society was held at the reserve and the highlight for us was, of course, the awarding of a the Denys Heesom award by the Executive Director , Zaitoon Rabaney, to Rob for his splendid hacking work over the years.


We couldn’t let ourselves be outdone so we presented Rob with our own award, a lifetime supply of herbicide. We just hope that he will outlast the 2  containers.


We were also treated to an excellent talk by Dr Andre Boshoff presenting “The larger mammals of southern Africa: what the present can learn from the past”. Quite sobering to hear about the wanton slaughtering of our wildlife continuing to this day.


Rob, Zaitoon, Andre 

Wessa walk

Last week was too wet so Wessa postponed their visit to this Wednesday. Pity because it meant that the Grahamstown contingent of 15 people could not take part. Ellie very ably led them on a grand tour from the Flower House to the arboretum and suitably impressed them showing what we all have done.

I carried on with the shade house reconstruction, missing my ‘handlanger’ to dig out poles and levelling rafters but made steady progress nonetheless.P1020905

It is taking shape quite nicely, the heavy digging work is done and now I have to be careful not to be rushed into finishing it and rather do it properly.

We feel sorry for the interns, even though they were promised jobs at the end of their term this has not materialised and they will go at the end of this month. It’s a shame because they brought something extra to the Reserve and they have no other job lined up.


Goodman was on leave and the stand-in manager got the staff organized. To our utter amazement they marched off to the entrance circle and got the whole place weeded and looking good. They had to borrow our equipment to be able to do it though!

The Wednesday Walkers were also out in force, they did the combined Nymph/Forest walk so with them, Wessa and a steady trickle of visitors it was quite a busy day in the Reserve.

At 3pm we called it a day, me because I was knackered and Ellie because she wanted to find Leucadendron orientale. We found quite a few specimens around the arboretum though they are difficult to tell apart from L.tinctum, L.sessile and L.ulignosum for an amateur like me.

I enjoyed looking at the Leucospermum conocarpodendron and woolly  Protea coronata along the River walk


instead of trying to figure out if this is really L.orientale.



We must be heading for a record rainfall season because the reserve is really waterlogged. The hacking crew got clever and decided to rather work on Tuesday and, even though it didn’t rain, they got rather wet just from the vegetation and the puddles anyway.

We went on Wednesday as usual and when we arrived there was a meeting in progress with all the staff and Joram. The little feedback we got did not sound very positive, the staff is still none the wiser about their future.

There were also some other chaps from the municipality roaming around, ostensibly looking at what building maintenance needs to be done but they asked rather pointed questions about the nursery, what water we were using and generally being nosy. I did not get a good feeling.

The concrete mixer “bribery” had worked though and all the old irrigation pipes have been removed, it looks so much neater now and easier to get to the greenhouse.

I had prefabricated some rafters for the shade house modification and it was a fair bit of work to get the angles and levels right, especially because the support poles had to be moved and the tires dug out but we managed to get the outer two up and aligned so the other three should be quicker.P1020814
Not easy to dig because the water level is just below the grass.

We had plenty of distractions, Neil joined us for coffee (amazing the attraction Ellie’s chocolates have), some visitors came and looked for plants to buy at the sale, other visitors, all the way from Belgium, asked directions so they were sent on the Nymph trail which they thoroughly enjoyed and lastly Goodman also still came around for some discussion. The communication is definitely improving and we are fast becoming part of the furniture,

The flyers at our notice board had all gone again, they seem to fill a need because we keep on having to print more.

While I was doing my construction work Ellie busied herself in the nursery sorting, planting, collecting, still lots to do before the 3rd of October especially because various visiting groups such as Wessa, Swartkops Garden Club, Geocaching etc. will be taking up some of her valuable time as well.

We had good intentions to still make some progress with the chainsawing but could only manage to put the refurbished Forest Walk signs back.


By comparison the Exit sign looks bad now so we should really have done that one too, perhaps with the next batch of signs. We would also like to replace the sign by the N2 turnoff as people from the Humansdorp direction have got lost a few times and ended up at Fitches corner instead.

Concrete mixer

Yesterday we bought the concrete mixer we had promised to Goodman a while ago to do very necessary work on the concrete gullies, planting poles and other maintenance work around the reserve.

To put it together and hand it over was not quite in the plan for today but, on the way to the reserve, it started to rain and we had to change our plans. The weather report had not warned us of the possibility so we were totally unprepared, didn’t even take raincoats. The Fovs room was transformed into a workshop and, following the detailed instructions, it didn’t take long to put it all together.

The hacking group was rather lost as it was too wet to venture out and I tried to keep them busy changing the blade on the brush cutter, collecting rocks for the trail signs, potting up things but you could see that, after yesterday’s good hack, their heart wasn’t quite in it.

Fortunately the rain stopped after tea and Keith gladly volunteered to do some more chainsawing while the rest of us tackled a job that has been on our list for quite a while and that is to clear around the Brabejam tree behind the Xhosa huts. While we were working hard Tony and cohorts kept themselves occupied by burning some brush near the huts and, much to our horror, also pulled the old thatching out of the roof of the small hut and burned that. On inquiring it has apparently been decided to demolish that one but Tony reassured us that he will definitely fix up the big one. That section around the huts has been quite an eyesore for a while now and hopefully it will get some attention soon.

After lunch we were left alone and walked part of the 3Dam trail to affix some missing signs on the logs and are now happy to say that the trail has been fully signposted.

We had just finished when Goodman arrived and we could handover the mixer. It was touching to see how grateful he was. It can’t be easy for him to run the reserves whilst all the while his budget gets cut.

There was still some time left so we went back to the main picnic site to continue cleaning up and we made good progress even though the saw wasn’t quite performing. The reason was clear when back home I checked the air filter which hasn’t been cleaned since we got the saw and found it rather clogged.

It was interesting to see that Sisani had closed the stopcocks on our water pipe because he suspected a leak was the cause of water streaming through the culvert while, most probably, it is the increased runoff after the controlled burn and the removal of the blue gums. It might stop raining one of these days and then we can check for sure.

On balance what started as quite a miserable turned out to be quite a productive one.

Hackers Patch

Guest author: Rob Norton

On Saturday 8th August I explored down the stream from under the power lines near the N2 down into the forest. Before reaching the forest it was noted that a large number of Port Jackson were present on the slope up to the N2, and they were coming into flower. A suggestion that we tackle the problem on Tuesday 11th was accepted by Cathy and Keith, despite the warning that it was rough territory. And that it was, the thought of going back to our August schedule on level ground the next day seemed cushy by comparison. The work is not without it rewards, these Hyobanche sanguinea are prominent at present.


Then on the way down Keith spotted a cluster of Widdringtonia.


and then some artefacts – image

And finally the satisfaction of looking up the slope and seeing only fynbos when the work was done, we probably missed plants, however there will now be hundreds fewer alien seeds produced this year.

Work to do

I have been amiss lately to maintain this blog. Various reasons including lots of work at home with signage etc. which meant an overdose of Van Stadens with accompanying withdrawal symptoms.

I will try and catch up but first here is a not exhaustive list (though just compiling it made me feel exhausted).

  • Week 32

    Tidy and brush cut new paths
    Clean around young trees
    Take rocks to Gem
    Talk to Goodman re mesh
    Brush cut around Gem
    Cut down dead Widdringtonias

  • Traffic circles
    Prune Leonitus
    Plant more vygies
  • Nursery
    Move sprinkler pipes
    Fix entrance gate
    Level path
    Group plants by signs
    Make missing signs
    Mix potting soil
    Repot vygies
    Rebag broken bags
  • Greenhouse
    Sort out sprinklers
  • Mist house
    Check cutting
    Take out cordifolium
    Plant Streptocarpus
    Tree cuttings?
  • Braai
    Put up sign
    Level grit
    Tidy wood stack
  • Signage
    Mount missing 3Dam signs
    Rocks and logs 3Dam
    To Braai sign
    Start/End Nymph trail signs
    Arrow under bridge
  • Brabejam
    Cut Ericas
    Drag away keurbooms
  • Main Picnic
    Sisani to move logs to Ramble
    Chainsaw more logs
    Plant more trees
  • Tilapia dam
    Cut and poison Keurboom on island
  • Shade house
    Affix stay wire
    New stranded wire on top
    Lower water pipe
    Sort out side poles
    Move some vibracrete to widen path
  • Front of Conference
    Dig up Podylaria
    Cut and poison Strelizias
  • Other
    Big Strelizia by dam
    Big Bang clear centre
    Brush cut Nymph sections

Trails inauguration

The week of bitter cold and rain certainly had its effect on the turnout for our monthly meet on a beautiful and sunny day.

All six of us set out to walk the newly signposted 3Dam and Nymph trails. We made it into a slow botanizing amble, often stopping to try and identify some plant or flower.


Especially Leucadenrons were discussed at length.

It has been a long time since all the dams had so much water in them, it was good to see.


The fynbos is recovering nicely and some of the Proteas are stunning.


The path was a bit soggy in places, especially some sections of the Nymph trail, this made for some interesting detours but we reached the final section in good spirits for the well deserve tea, coffee and eats.